Repetition is the key to learning. And overcoming previous programming is extremely difficult to do. So, do not be discouraged with yourself if you still see evidence of contentious behavior and feel you have so much to change. God loves to give “beauty for ashes” (Is. 61:3). Stay with it. Endure. Persevere.
Read chapter 11 in Wife School before you read the following lesson.
Week Eleven, Day One
Will My Husband Ever Reciprocate?
A sweet lady in Bible study whom I was speaking to about Wife School said, “We must realize and accept that some husbands will never reciprocate, even though we fill them with the 8 A’s.” There are always the extremely rare exceptions. But honestly, I think that the overwhelming, gigantic majority of men eventually reciprocate. Let’s discuss why.
I was up very early this morning and noticed the gorgeous sunrise. What splendor! “Oh, God! What beauty!” I said. A young couple I know has some happy, chubby-cheeked toddlers I recently saw at church. “How adorable!” I thought. I felt compelled to tell the mother. And then, I am reminded of how I recently walked into a beautifully decorated room, and my tendency was to praise and comment on its beauty.
That’s because humans are designed to want to praise beauty and goodness. We don’t conjure it up; it is a natural response in humans to artistry.
So as women live the 8 A’s, coupled with a 1 Peter 3 gentle and quiet spirit, husbands eventually notice the beauty and goodness; therefore, their tendency is to praise it. Some husbands are more vocal than others, but most husbands, in time, will notice and comment.
Women ask me over and over again, “How long will this take if I truly change how I act toward him?” And the answer is always, “It depends. How much emotional turmoil have you brought into the marriage and for how long?” Newlyweds can self-correct pretty quickly. Those who have been married longer have deeper grooves in the brain with their previous unloving patterns, and these take longer to override. I received an email this week from a young woman who told me her husband admitted that he had been considering leaving her before “she changed.” Her marriage did not take very long to heal, as she had been married only a few years. To override a harsh pattern of fifteen years will take longer than these mere few weeks that you have been in Wife School Online.
The degree of the emotional turmoil is a factor in how long it takes to turn around your marriage. Severe sarcasm, breaches of trust, and repeated hurtful remarks make deep grooves in the brain. I do believe the change can occur, but these marriages need an extra dose of perseverance to convince your husband that the change is sincere and permanent.
I, like you, want easy answers to fix life. But there are none. Life has pain. Life has problems. Life has challenges. You decide if you are going to throw yourself on the Lord and have him meet your needs so that you are a lush, fruitful garden that others may come and pick your fruit (John 15). Your beautiful, fruitful garden will please the One who created you and will draw the hearts of those who eat your fruit.
Find contentment with the portion you now have. (Learning contentment is a course in itself, and we will further explore this topic in future lessons.) Quit demanding that your portion is not enough, and do the work to make things better while accepting what is. You know women who incessantly whine, have self-pity, and complain. Don’t be like that. Be that uncommon woman with the gracious spirit. Proverbs 11:16 says, “A kind-hearted woman gains honor.” Kind hearted? Wow, that word in itself is a rebuke to many of us. Take responsibility for your own nourishment, and then give lavishly to others from an overflow from your prayer life. We are women of prayer, or we are women of angst.
A kind-hearted, gracious woman will gain honor, Solomon tells us. Just like the gorgeous sunrise, or the adorable fat-cheeked baby, this rare nature in a woman elicits praise for its beauty. But give up looking for it; give up demanding it. Focus on your luscious fruit to give away. And then someday, when you are not expecting it because you are not looking for it, this will happen:
“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all’” (Prov. 31:28–29). Her husband and children arise and bless her, not because she is brilliant, charming, or gorgeous. They bless her because she is a godly gracious giver, meeting their needs instead of demanding that she be coddled all the time. Strive for godliness, not cleverness.
You and I don’t want to be self-absorbed and critical women. But that is our natural tendency, my friend. And it gets worse as you age, because the losses accumulate. That is why so many middle-aged women become alcoholics, become addicted to sugar, or have problems with spending. They want to medicate the accumulated losses.
We must fight our natural tendencies to “focus on what is missing and what is disappointing.” We must become grateful, focusing on the good that is in our life. That is why I am repeatedly adamant about filling out your lists in your Turquoise Journal. That is a tool to fight discouragement and to fight self-pity.
Maybe your husband is not reciprocating today. Overlook that. Focus on how you love and give to others, not on how you are loved and given to. It’s a sowing-and-reaping world, my friend. But the reaping comes much later than the sowing. Your husband will (most, most, most likely) eventually reciprocate, but try to take looking for it off your plate. This is the man you were given to love; do your assignment well. And when you least expect it, the rain will come.
Week Eleven, Day Two
A Discussion about Charm, Beauty, and Fearing the Lord
In this section, we will discuss three attributes from Proverbs 31—charm, beauty, and fearing the Lord—and how they relate.
When I was in my thirties, I was with some older women, and one of the successful and attractive women was talking. She was discussing another woman who was recently widowed. “She’ll be married again soon because she’s charming with men.”
I sort of knew what she meant, but I was curious. “What does that mean specifically?”
I remember the light going off. I thought, “Hmm, that’s a formula for being charming with men.” And as you know, many of the 8 A’s teach you to be charming with your husband. And that is not a bad thing!
But I knew the woman she was talking about, and she certainly did not exhibit godly character. That was not a person I wanted to pattern myself after, at all. I realized then that charm and good social skills can often be a mask for an ugly, small, self-centered soul.
Now let’s talk a little about beauty. There are two ditches women fall into regarding beauty. One ditch is to be obsessed about beauty. We hear Christian speakers warn of these dangers all the time. And Peter warns us to not focus on outward beauty as much as acquiring a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet. 3).
The other ditch is not to focus on beauty at all, much to the disappointment of many husbands. Men derive pleasure from looking at their attractive spouses. Dr. Adrian Rogers once said, “Some people say it’s a sin to wear makeup. I think it’s a sin for some women not to.”
We know it’s all right to invest some effort into beauty. The Proverbs 31 woman was said to dress in fine linen and purple. Esther was given twelve months of beauty treatments before she was taken to the king (Esther 2:12). Why, God chose to make three of the main Old Testament women beautiful: Sarah, Rachel, and Esther. But how much can we think about and invest in this area of beauty, and when does it get too much? We all want to know, where is the line?
When my mother was growing up in the 1930s in rural Missouri, her mother insisted that she get braces for her crooked teeth. Many of the surrounding neighbors criticized this because they thought it was vain and focused too much on the exterior. We all laugh at that now, as we feel sorry for young children who are not able to afford braces. Braces are accepted and expected in our current culture.
So standards change. What the culture criticizes in one generation is acceptable in another. This doesn’t help us much with deciding what is acceptable.
Obviously, God is not opposed to beauty in a woman but to an excessive focus on outward appearance to the exclusion of the higher priority of inner beauty. This is our guide, to have the priority of having a focus on inner beauty.
There’s something interesting in what King Lemuel’s mother wrote to him when she was giving him advice on whom to select as a wife in Proverbs 31. She says, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain.”
What does that mean? Does she mean don’t marry someone who is charming? Don’t marry someone who is beautiful? You have to know what comes next to appreciate what she is trying to say. What comes next is “but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” It’s OK to be charming with your husband. But without fearing the Lord, charm can be deceitful and manipulative. And it is fine to be beautiful. But a woman who desperately endeavors to be beautiful without fearing the Lord can be vain and often self-absorbed. Charm and beauty can both be cover-ups for shallowness and selfishness.
Be charming with your husband. And for sure, it’s fine to buy some cream to get rid of the crow’s-feet around your eyes. (I love when Sally Field in Steel Magnolias says, “Honey, time marches on and eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face.”) But the most fabulous, supercalifragilistic, important attribute in a woman is that she fears the Lord. A woman who fears the Lord knows that he is watching and that he is in control. She lives in his presence, living with kindness and integrity. That’s the real good stuff that wins over charm and beauty every time.
At the time of this writing, we have four unmarried sons (one is married), and I know all four of those unmarried boys want to marry someone who is beautiful and charming. But the best advice I could give them is to marry someone who fears the Lord.
Look lovely for your husband, and certainly treat him with charm. But a man is truly blessed when his wife fears the Lord.
Week Eleven, Day Three
Three Qualities That Predict Addiction
I love studying anything associated with the human personality, and a fascinating topic is addiction. Did you know that there are certain personality traits that are associated with addiction? The three qualities that are found in almost all addicts are insecurity, grandiosity (expecting high treatment and getting offended when they don’t get it), and resentment. Let’s talk about these three weaknesses. If you know this is a problem for you or your husband, you can take strides to help heal the problem.
Let’s discuss insecurity first. People who are insecure are always walking around with their antennas up, looking to see how other people treat them. Honestly, other people are not thinking about us, so it would be easy to feel insecure and overlooked much of the time. When people fail to acknowledge you, invite you, speak to you, return your e-mail, call or text you back, talk nicely to you, or include you, it’s easy to interpret that as “They don’t like or respect me.” Those thoughts are hurtful, and hurtful thoughts beget hurtful emotions that we then want to medicate. (Remember the alley and park examples that show emotions come from thoughts? See week ten, day three.)
Instead, we are to know we are accepted in the Beloved (Eph. 1:6). We are wretches by nature, but that has been paid for, and we are now free to enjoy who we are and to enjoy life. We don’t have to be perfect; we simply have to walk in the Spirit, listening to the still, small Voice saying, “This is the path, walk ye in it” (Is. 30:21). We no longer have to envy or despise. We are OK, and so are others.
As far as the issue of grandiosity, people with addictions often feel slighted by how much attention others don’t give them and by the lack of special and high treatment they receive from their families, friends, fellow church members, or even store clerks.
If there is one theme in the Bible, it is to have humility. It is to lay down getting treated like a big shot (Haman in the book of Esther is a great negative example). We are called to serve others, not to impress them or to receive service from them. When we focus on how others are perceiving us or how we are being treated, we punch our insecurity and grandiosity buttons. These feelings are uncomfortable; therefore, the desire to medicate (addictions) arises.
The third megatheme in addiction is resentment. We especially resent people whom we expected to be there for us: parents, siblings, close friends, in-laws, etc. I can think of two women right now who said mean things about me. But because I didn’t have expectations from them to truly care for me, their words didn’t hurt (as much). But there are people whom I counted on and thought they should be there for me; when they weren’t, it was easy to feel resentful toward them. (It is helpful here to think of who has offended you.)
Giving up resentment and forgiving others, as you know, is commanded over and over again in Scripture. But we often linger and fail to do this, especially when we continue to be in a relationship with them and when they continue to hurt and disappoint us.
Resentment is now correlated with all kinds of disease. Our bodies were not created to harbor resentment, and when we do, we have physical issues with our bodies. “’Up to 90 percent of the doctor visits in the USA may be triggered by a stress-related illness,’ says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” (From an April 6, 2005 article on Mercola.com.)
I don’t have all the answers, but I know that your resentment toward whomever is harming you. It is harming your health, it gives you a proclivity toward addictive behavior, and it is not a good example for your children (because your heart is the schoolroom for your children). Give it up. If it comes back, give it up again. Get some professional Christian counseling if you cannot give up your resentment by yourself.
If we could conquer our insecurity, our grandiosity (pride), and our resentments, we would grow exponentially. Not an easy thing to do, I admit. Prayer is always your first go-to answer.
Week Eleven, Day Four
Learn Not to Be Offended
Very close to resentment is being offended. However, we can learn not to be offended (or at least grow in being less offended). Addicts are regularly and ridiculously offended (it triggers the insecurity and grandiosity buttons). Outside of Christian circles, much is written on healthy human functioning, and learning not to be offended is often at the top of those lists. When an offense comes your way, try to be steam and let it pass through instead of being like a brick wall, in which the offense hits with a thud. Yes, you acknowledge the offense in your mind, but you choose to overlook, to let it pass through. Years ago, a Bible teacher used to say to OLAT, or “overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11).
Overlooking or not being offended is not an easy thing to do, especially if you have grown up being criticized a lot or were treated harshly as a youth. But you can begin to grow in this healthy way by seeing how Jesus responded when mistreated. Jesus forgave his offenders and said to return a blessing for an insult. Some standard!
Let’s see what this would look like if you are offended. Let’s say someone has criticized you (or your child) in a harsh and hurtful way. That would ruffle your feathers, right? Tell God how unfair you think it is, how harsh it was, how mean it was, etc. Then, it’s time to get God’s perspective on the offense.
Jesus was certainly not given high treatment or understood. It is not our tendency to bless those who mistreat us (Rom. 12:14), but we are called to do this. It is not our natural inclination to give up revenge (such as slandering them) in exchange for peacemaking (Rom. 12:17–20) when we have been mistreated. We don’t want to live out Ephesians 4:2 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” But that is God’s method for dealing with offenses. Overlook and forgive, and do it seventy times seventy.
One day, I was walking with my wise friend Karen, and she told me about a situation in which a man had said and done something negative to her. I was getting upset hearing about it, thinking how offended I would be. But not her. She OLATs all the time. If you sin against her, she forgives. I remember how struck I was with her perspective.
This is an aside, but whom you hang around will influence you in the most magnanimous of ways. David and I were eating with some friends, and a couple of us were joking about the new spouse our current spouse would marry if we died. We were teasing somewhat, but honestly, I was a little concerned that the new spouse would come in and take the “inheritance that rightly belonged to my children and use it for her children.” (I feel like a wretch even admitting this conversation.) The gracious friend with me said, “Oh, I would want the new spouse to be able to use some of the money to help her children. I’m sure her children would need help, too.” A lovely and humble heart in another person is the best teaching device ever. Whom you hang around is gigantic in forming how you think.
Something God is teaching me that I still struggle with is to move toward the person who offends me. This can be a family member, a friend, a church member, or even a waitress. If I am offended, then I am to move toward that person with kindness. No, I don’t have feelings that make me want to do this. I am merely attempting to return a blessing for an insult or good for evil, which is what we are called to do. Yes, it’s uncomfortable, but whoever said that life was always supposed to be comfortable? (Thinking that life is always supposed to be comfortable is another erroneous thinking pattern of addicts.) Letting our feelings primarily dictate how we live is idiotic.
Now, to conclude our discussion on insecurity, grandiosity, resentment, and being offended, let’s discuss if your husband struggles with these issues. The advice is not the same as if you struggle. Remember, we have double standards. We treat ourselves one way but treat our husbands another. If your husband struggles here, do not be the Holy Spirit and tell him what you’ve learned, how you’re growing in this, and what he needs to do differently. The response to an insecure man is to fill his tank with evidence of his strengths and godly virtues. The healing that takes place when a wife focuses on her husband’s good qualities is unsurpassed. We all need spouses who overlook, who forgive, who see the best in us, and tell us. Now, don’t expect this from your earthly husband, but expect it from your heavenly husband. Get full of God, and then give it to your spouse. And if, by chance, your husband gives you grace, admiration, forgiveness, or kindness in return, then—guess what?—write it in your Turquoise Journal! (Did you guess correctly? Good! I knew you would.)
Week Eleven, Day Five
Another Quick Thought on When Others Fail
In week ten, day one, we discussed having empathy and compassion for your husband when he fails. I quickly and briefly want to build on that theme.
At a basketball game, one of our boys was given a technical foul for being disrespectful to a referee. I sat stunned in the stands. My son? Disrespectful? In front of all these people I know and care about? Why, how embarrassing. What a terrible testimony. I was numb, I was so embarrassed. I imagined the whispers in the stands: “Those Gordons certainly don’t know how to rear respectful kids. They are probably crummy parents.”
But as I talked with several other moms, they showered me with grace, giving me examples of when their children had embarrassed them and reminded me that all our kids are sinners, too. This example of acceptance and grace toward me reminded me that this is how I am to be to others: helping others find grace when they experience failure, showering others with understanding, throwing out the judgmental attitudes I have when others fail.
Be a vessel of grace to others when they fail instead of a self-righteous Pharisee who thinks she has it all together. We sinners need to forgive other sinners (Matt. 18:21–35).
Week Eleven, Day Five, Continued…
A Tirade on Health
Ah, now I get to get on my soapbox and stomp around a little. I get feisty talking about this subject. I am not a nutritionist or a doctor or anything scientific at all, only an avid reader. There is obviously a lot of scam information out there, and the challenge is finding the right information. If you study something voraciously, though, the secrets will eventually rise to the top. Health is a subject that I am extremely interested in, as are many of you. I offer this section only to stir you up to think about your family’s health. I certainly do not set myself up as any kind of expert at all. I am sure that I do not have all the right information in this area. But, like you, I am a learner.
The Bible doesn’t talk about eating healthy because it was not an issue in biblical times. Processed food didn’t exist. The soil was rich and nutrient dense, and thus the food supply was pure and whole.
However, even the Bible talks to the farmer in Exodus 23:11 and says, “[B]ut the seventh year you shall let it [the land] rest and lie fallow.” In this century, we know how important this is for the soil to “lie fallow” (unused) so the soil can rebuild itself with nutrients (of course, you would be hard pressed to find many farmers who do this).
It is scary what is happening to our food supply. Some large corporations couldn’t care less if you are healthy. In fact, they make money when you are not. You can’t trust the government or big businesses to care about your health (some people do care, but just not all). You must learn this area and take responsibility for learning about food.
Many foods are now becoming genetically modified (GMOs). These are very dangerous foods and cause all sorts of problems in the human body. I won’t even buy corn at the local grocery anymore because the corn supply is so tainted with GMOs. I go to the health food store and make sure it says non-GMO.
God created your amazing body and also created amazing food to nourish it completely. But we eat things God didn’t create. Our beef is from cows that are grain fed instead of how God designed them to be grass fed. The grain-fed cows are often given hormones and antibodies so they will grow faster and thus are more financially rewarding. But grain-fed beef causes inflammation in the human body. Make the effort to secure grass-fed beef.
Many farm-raised seafood is high in mercury. (I say most because there are some honest and caring companies out there trying to give you a healthy product.) You want to buy wild-caught seafood, as how God originally made the fish to live. (Although, with recent oil spills, I like to buy fish from the northern waters.)
Most of us are vitamin D deficient (the sunshine vitamin), and then we lather chemical-laden sunscreen all over us to keep the sun out. Vitamin D deficiency is worth studying because it wreaks havoc all over your body.
You should also check out the chemicals in your makeup. Some of these chemicals have been linked to cancer.
Then there is the issue of sugar. Try counting the sugar grams you eat in a day. It will blow your mind. You are not supposed to eat more than twenty-five sugar grams a day. Excessive sugar is terrible for your body. There is hardly a disease that is not influenced by excessive sugar.
Have you ever studied the subject of aspartame, the sweetener in your Diet Coke? Do you have any idea how much havoc that toxin does to your body? I drank the toxic stuff for years, so I still may have to pay a price for that.
I could go on and on about pesticides and soil that is depleted in nutrients and yada yada.
This is a tirade to try to alarm you that you must not ignore this subject. My favorite health hero is Dr. Joseph Mercola of Mercola.com. He is often criticized because he quit his medical practice to write a daily blog and now sells supplements. (That doesn’t bother me at all. He has to make a living, too, and he is educating millions on how to be healthy.) If you will read Mercola’s blog daily, your understanding of health will skyrocket in a year.
Be ready to be shocked at what you read about vaccines. I have two brothers who are MDs, and I love doctors. But we have to be wise and carefully examine the evidence about vaccines. Especially read the June 6, 2017, article entitled “New Studies Reveal Vaccine Harm” on Mercola.com, as well as the July 2, 2017, article entitled “Critical Vaccine Studies: 400 Important Scientific Papers Parents and Pediatricians Need to Be Aware Of.”
An article appeared on Mercola.com on January 15, 2014, called “Banned to Horses…But Allowed on Your Dinner Plate.” Here is an excerpt:
The beta-agonist drug Zilmax has been used to promote muscle growth in American-grown cattle since 2007. Within the first two years, the number of euthanized cattle shot up by 175 percent. FDA records show that reported side effects of Zilmax include stomach ulcers, brain lesions, blindness, lethargy and lameness, bloody nose, respiratory problems, heart failure, lost hooves, and sudden death.
You have only one body. It has to last your whole lifetime. Be intentional in how you take care of it. You cannot serve God if you are in the grave.
If God didn’t make the food (or make all the ingredients in it), don’t eat it. Check out what processed food you are eating, and intentionally wean yourself and your family from junk. The women in my Skinny School classes call this food “trash food.” because that’s what it is—trash. A friend talked to me years ago about opening a fast-food restaurant (one of the unhealthy ones). Really, I would have moral issues with doing that, selling something to people when it was not good for them, just to make a profit.
Many experts say that you are fine if you eat well 90 percent of the time, but I try to eat 100 percent healthy every day. Why fool around with food that is bad for you? (There are other pleasures in life besides sugar and carbs!) Try to learn about food, and move toward a more natural, wholesome diet. I have been dabbling in learning about health and nutrition for almost thirty years, and I still feel as if I don’t know anything. One thing we do know: God made whole food to nourish our bodies. We best pay attention.
One thing that is very sad (and I think Satan is having a celebration with this) is that although the Church is where we learn about eternal salvation found only in Jesus, the modern Church is in darkness and duped about health. I pray that God will help the Church understand and see the huge problem that it is ignoring. We are spiritual/mental/physical beings, and we cannot ignore any area. I offer this information with sadness, not anger. I want to be part of the solution, not condemning anyone or anything.
OK, back to your regularly scheduled programming. The tirade is over, for now.
For our prayer this week, I want to copy and paste Psalm 100. I learned this Scripture by memory when I was eleven in a neighborhood Vacation Bible School. The huge truths found in these few, concise sentences still serve as a compass on how to live.
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
In Jesus’s name,
- Where are you in your thinking as far as “how much you expect your husband to reciprocate”? How could you improve your thoughts in this area? What do you need to remember that would be helpful to you?
- Have you ever thought about the fact that charm and beauty can be a mask for shallowness and selfishness? What are your thoughts in this area? What is God saying to you? ________________________________________________________________________
- Do you feel you struggle with any three of the attributes of addiction (insecurity, grandiosity, and resentment)? If so, what are your plans to grow? ________________________________________________________________________
- How would you describe yourself as far as being easilyor not easily offended? Explain. ________________________________________________________________________
- How would you describe your response to others when they fail? Explain. How would you like to improve this?
- Were you offended by my tirade on health? Was this new information, old information, annoying information, or unwanted information? What are your thoughts? ________________________________________________________________________